Daily Digest: I-35 suit will proceed, Second quake rocks Italy, Al Qaeda No. 2 reported dead

by Nickalas Tabbert

 Here is your Daily Digest for Tuesday, May 29:

Supreme Court will not block lawsuit against I-35 bridge firm

The Supreme Court will not block Minnesota’s lawsuit against the California design firm over the interstate bridge collapse in 2007.

No comments were made from the justices after turning down an appeal by Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. of Pasadena, Calif., arguing that too much time passed since the bridge was built in the 1960s, the Star Tribune said.

The Minnesota Supreme Court earlier ruled the lawsuit could proceed, using laws the state legislature passed in 2008 allowing Minnesota to seek reimbursement from parties that may have contributed to the 2007 collapse.

A federal investigation found a design flaw was an important cause of the collapse, the Tribune said.

The state court said the reimbursement laws do not violate Jacobs’ constitutional rights.

The case is Jacobs Engineering v. Minnesota, 11-1074.


Northern Italy earthquake leaves 10 dead

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck Northern Italy Tuesday, killing at least 10 people and destroying buildings.

The second quake in 10 days, Tuesday’s rumbles were felt just after 9:00 a.m. local time and was centered 25 miles northwest of the city of Bologna, according to the U.S. Geological Survey –  the same area where a 6.0-magnitude quake killed seven people on May 20.

Many victims of both quakes were at work in huge warehouses that collapsed, including one dead inside a machinery factory in Mirandola, near the epicenter, The Associated Press said.

Premier Mario Monti said in a news conference that the government will do “all that it must and all that is possible in the briefest period to guarantee the resumption of normal life in this area is so special, so important and so productive for Italy.”

Monti was meeting with emergency officials in Rome to discuss the impact of the earlier quake, which struck in the middle of the night and left at least 7,000 homeless.

People from Piedmont in northwest Italy to Venice in the northeast and even in Austria felt the quake, the AP said.  It was followed by aftershocks, some registering more than 5.0 in magnitude.

Emergency crews were trying to sift through the twisted steel and broken stones to find victims.  The ANSA news agency said 10 people had died while the LaPresse news agency said others will still buried under the rubble of collapsed homes and factories. 

“The fact that workers are dying again in these new shocks makes me thing that factories were not rendered safe before sending people back to work,” said Susanna Camusso, head of the Italian General Confederation of Labour.

The May 20 quake was described by Italian emergency officials as the worst to hit the region since the 1300s.

Many locals were asking whether recent reports of gas drilling in the area might have contributed to the instability of the area, the Guardian said.  Emergency workers directing traffic told passerby not to smoke.


NATO: Al Qaeda’s No. 2 killed in airstrike

Al Qaeda’s second-in-command was killed in an airstrike in Afghanistan, U.S. coalition forces said Tuesday.

Sakhr al-Taifi, a Saudi national, commanded foreign insurgent fighters and frequently moved between Afghanistan and Pakistan, often overseeing the transport of militants into Afghanistan, NATO said in a prepared statement.  The airstrike was Sunday in the Watahpur district of Kunar, a province along the Pakistani border.

Al-Taifi and one other unnamed Al Qaeda militant were killed in the airstrike, NATO said.

Once the men were identified, and it was determined no civilians were in the area, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force engaged the targets with a precision airstrike, CNN said.  A follow-up assessment of the area determined no civilian property was damaged and no civilians were harmed.

The U.S. has worn down Al Qaeda’s leadership ranks over the last two years, the Los Angeles Times said.  U.S. drone missile strikes have killed at least 18 senior Al Qaeda leaders and commanders in addition to several top Taliban commanders. 

The death of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a secret U.S. commando raid in May 2011 was followed by a drone strike the next month that killed Ilyas Kashmiri, a top Al Qaeda planner.

In fall of 2011, U.S. officials reported the killing of Atiyah Abdul Rahman, then Al Qaeda’s second-in-command, and Anwar Awlaki, who served as a key propaganda figure.

Last summer, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said he believed Al Qaeda’s defeat was “within reach,” though experts think the terror network still poses a threat against the U.S. or its allies, the Times said.